About Us

Nevada SSBCI


The Battle Born Venture Program (“Battle Born”) is a state venture capital program overseen by the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) under the auspices of the US Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI). Battle Born makes equity and equity-like investments in early stage, high-growth Nevadan enterprises in the following industries: aerospace & defense, agriculture, energy, healthcare, IT, logistics & operations, manufacturing, mining, tourism & gaming, water. It seeks an economic return on investment, and any proceeds from investments are reinvested into the program for the benefit of the citizens of the State of Nevada.

The State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) was created by the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 with the aim of enhancing local capital infrastructures; the initiative is managed by the US Treasury which requires that each State undergo thorough due diligence of the form and management of each component of the program before the funds allocated to each state are released. As of 2017, 38 states run venture capital programs under SSBCI, and Battle Born was fortunate to be able to draw from the experience of these teams and the advice of the venture capital advisors to the US Treasury, Cromwell Schmisseur LLC in formulating its program.

The Nevada SSBCI program began in 2011, and currently consists of two components: Collateral Support Program, managed by GOED, which pledges cash collateral shortfall to lending institutions to enhance the collateral coverage of individual loans taken by qualified Nevadan companies, and Battle Born. 

The addition of Battle Born to the Nevada SSBCI program represents an updating of the program, learning from the success of venture programs in other states. Research from Cromwell Schmisseur LLC shows that more than two thirds of SSBCI funds have been used for early stage venture capital investments. After a detailed due diligence process, the US Treasury allocated $5 million to Battle Born, and approved GOED as the program manager and Nicola Kerslake of Newbean Capital as the investment manager as a sub-contractor to the Nevada Small Business Development Center (Nevada SBDC).

Program Manager


The US Treasury has approved Karsten Heise of the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) as Battle Born’s program manager.

Karsten Heise is the Technology Commercialization Director for the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development. He leads Technology based Economic Development (TBED) and Technology Commercialization in Nevada for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED). Credited with introducing Nevada to the concept of Applied Research Centers, Mr. Heise serves as a liaison for Nevada industry and the university and research communities with the objective of development and implantation of innovative technologies. In addition, he obtains opportunities for risk capital to support Nevada companies and start-ups, and created Battle Born Growth Escalator, Nevada’s State Venture Capital Program of which he serves as its program manager.

Prior to joining GOED, Mr. Heise lived 5 years in Beijing, China serving as external consultant for the Baron Group’s Beijing office as well as a member of the senior management team at Beijing based private equity firm Asia Assets Limited. He provided financial and strategic advice through the evaluation and analysis of potential acquisition targets, evaluating and proposing financial and strategic alternatives, and assisting in the determination of an appropriate capital structure.

Before relocating to Beijing, Mr. Heise worked for 10 years in the international equity divisions of London-based Wall Street investment banks Morgan Stanley, Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette (DLJ), and most recently Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB). As Vice President at CSFB, he specialized in alternative investments and international equities with a responsibility for client assets of USD250M. His clients were entrepreneurs, ultra high net worth individuals and family offices, as well as institutions such as insurance companies, pension funds, asset managers and banks.

Mr. Heise speaks Mandarin Chinese and German. He earned a B.Sc.(Hons) in Economics from the University of Buckingham, U.K., a M.Sc. in International Business & Finance from the University of Reading, U.K., and a M.Phil. in Modern Chinese Studies, Chinese Economy from the University of Cambridge – Wolfson College. He is also an alumnus of the Investment Management Evening Program at London Business School.

Investment Manager


The US Treasury has approved Nicola Kerslake of Newbean Capital as the investment manager, as a sub-contractor to the Nevada Small Business Development Center (Nevada SBDC).

The Nevada SBDC, established in 1985, is Nevada’s largest integrated business outreach program. It is an economic and community development collaborative that leverages its resources through programmatic and financial partnerships to support applying real world solutions to the real world of business. Services delivered through its 11 office statewide network include: professional business consulting, entrepreneurial education and training, economic and demographic analyses, and regional business and economic research. NSBDC offices in Reno and Las Vegas – hosted by the University of Nevada, Reno and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas – house the Battle Born initiative.

During her career, Kerslake has managed large portfolios for institutional investment clients as well as working with entrepreneurs to accelerate the development of their businesses.

Her background is primarily in investments; she has managed private equity, real assets and hedge funds in the US for SEI Investments and the Monitor Group, and was a top three rated equity analyst in Europe and Asia at subsidiaries of ABN Amro and Credit Agricole. During this time, she conducted due diligence on a wide range of private and public investments, negotiated investments in both direct and fund opportunities and managed complex portfolios.

In addition, Kerslake worked with a technology commercialization non-profit, eventually being promoted to Vice President leading a team of professionals. She worked with government entities, academic institutions, national labs (LBNL, LANL) and private companies to commercialize their technologies, advance their business plans, and aid them in seeking funding. Notable successes included founding the first Startup Weekends in Reno and rural Nevada, and participating in the establishment of a Cleantech Open chapter in Nevada.

She is an entrepreneur in her own right, having created, grown and successfully exited an indoor agriculture business, and her most recent venture - Contain Inc - graduated from Techstars' Farm to Fork program, backed by Cargill and Ecolab, in 2019.

Kerslake received a BA Hons (Oxon) in Politics, Philosophy & Economics from Magdalen College, Oxford, and holds both Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) qualifications. Her projects have been featured in leading media, including the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal, her research has been published in academic journals and she has presented to numerous industry, academic and investment conferences.